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Top 5 Investigative Research Techniques

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There are many investigative research techniques that private investigators put to use when working on a case. While some of these techniques might seem straightforward, a private investigator in Canada needs to really understand the pros, cons, when, and how-to of each.

For example, a really great private investigation company can provide many different services like risk management and fraud, skip tracing, background checks, and more. It is up to the private investigator on the case to know which investigative research techniques to start with and use in order to solve a client’s problem.

While some might argue that there are too many investigative research techniques to count, we feel that there are a select few that are more important.

1. Public Libraries

Research in public libraries is particularly helpful when a private investigator’s information isn’t current or up to date. For a private investigator in Canada, Public libraries have a wealth of public information on people including,

  • Yearbooks
  • Trade Magazines
  • Telephone Books
  • Birth Notices
  • Obituary Notices
  • Business Directories
  • Engagement Notices
  • Telephone Books
  • Old Newspapers (CD-ROM, Online, microfiche, etc.)
  • Marriage Notices

Searching through the above-mentioned sources also assist private investigations in that they help to form a baseline that will help to move the case forward.

2. Internet Research

The internet is another great tool private investigator’s use to start their research on a case. With the Internet, there are a number of online tools that a private investigator can use. Some of these tools include:

  • Social Networking Websites
  • People Finder Websites
  • Website Directories
  • Geographical Areas Websites

The most important details that these internet research tools can provide to a private investigator include home address, business address, and personal profile of the subject. In some cases, Internet research can even reveal the subject’s likes and dislikes

When using internet research techniques, and especially when it comes to researching an individual, it is important for the private investigator to stay objective. This can become difficult when using social media tools because the individual has the ability to manipulate that information to suit their perception of themselves.

While internet research can be incredibly valuable, sometimes it does not provide the information the private investigation firm is looking for. At this point, the private investigator can begin to conduct interviews.

3. Interviews

Interviews are a very important research tool that private investigators use in many different types of investigation services. From catching a cheating spouse, to uncovering company fraud, interviews are a way to gather more information about a case.

The primary purpose of an interview is to take a witness statement. Witness statements can then be used as proof in many different situations. Private investigators can interview many different people including,

  • Landlords
  • Employers
  • Relatives
  • Caregivers
  • Employees
  • Neighbours

When conducting an interview, private investigators are encouraged to follow particular guidelines to make sure that they get the information they want. In addition, following the proper guidelines helps them to stay within the law

For example, a private investigator needs to remember that recording a conversation without the consent or knowledge of the participant(s) is a criminal offence.

3. Surveillance

Prior to conducting an interview, many private investigators will use surveillance. This is a research technique and private investigation services that requires a private eye to observe places, people and other elements that pertain to a case.

With this research technique, private investigators can also use different technologies to record video and take photographs of the subject in a natural state. Information gathered from surveillance can be used in court as evidence or to conduct interviews.

5. Undercover Operations

Workplace related cases sometimes require a private investigator to go undercover. This investigative research technique is typically used after other techniques like, interviews and surveillance have been conducted, and the case is still not resolved.

Undercover private investigators require information on different elements of the case before they enter the environment. Details like:

  • Current suspects
  • Where suspects like to hang out
  • Expectations of their undercover persona
  • What is known about the case

Overall, these five investigative research techniques might not be employed every time a private investigator is on a case. However, in Canada, and here at The Smith Investigation Agency, they make a great place for private investigators to start in any situation.

Looking for private investigation services in Toronto, GTA or Ottawa? You’ve come to the right place! Contact us today for more information on the types of services we provide. We are also a leading provider of private investigator training in Ontario!

About the Author

Whitney Joy Smith

Founder of The Smith Investigation Agency in 2014, Whitney Joy Smith’s extensive background as a private investigator is matched only by her passion for the role. A graduate of several respected institutions, including Northwest Florida State College and George Brown College, her early years in life were spent between Canada and the United States. This education, along with her formative years as a private investigator in various agencies, informed much of her knowledge of private investigative laws, regulations, and operating standards in both countries.

The recipient of numerous industry awards and accolades, including the Consumers Choice Award, Best in Ottawa, and many others, Whitney takes pride in working closely with her ever-growing agency to raise the bar, maintain compliance, and meet the investigative needs of clients. Whitney is active in various membership and supporting roles, including the CPIRC, CBN, CAPI, Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and many others. Her experience-driven, thought-provoking articles have been featured in everything from Readers Digest to Business News Daily, and she strives to continually redefine standards for those in the private investigative and security fields. Learn more about Whitney and the team at The Smith Investigation Agency today.

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